Taunton Municipal Electric Company Faces EPA Fine for Clean Water Violations
The Taunton Municipal Lighting Plant may pay a penalty of up to $157,500 for violations of the federal Clean Water Act, according to an administrative complaint filed by EPA.
An EPA inspection of the facility in March 2006 found that the Taunton Municipal Lighting Plant (TMLP) violated several provisions of its permits under the Clean Water Act (known as a “National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System” (NPDES) permits).
EPA’s complaint alleges that TMLP failed to properly conduct monthly monitoring between June 2004 and February 2006 for oil and grease and failed to operate and maintain adequate laboratory controls and appropriate quality assurance procedures as required by its NPDES permit. The individual NPDES permit violations related to oil and grease monitoring and inadequate laboratory practices are significant because TMLP reported “zero” on its Discharge Monitoring Reports for oil and grease during months in which it failed to maintain adequate laboratory practices to accurately measure oil and grease.
In the complaint, EPA also alleges that TMLP failed to maintain the pH in wastewater discharges to the Taunton River within acceptable limits. The pH of water is a scientific measurement that describes how acidic or alkaline (basic) the water is. The pH violations are significant because discharges with a low pH can cause harm to the riparian habitat.
A municipal electric utility that produces and distributes electricity to approximately 33,000 customers, TMLP’s facility includes the main power generation building, oil storage tanks, a switchyard, a cooling tower, a chemical storage building, a water intake house, fuel oil receiving houses, and a guardhouse. The area surrounding the facility is rural, consisting of wetlands, wooded areas and the Taunton River.
EPA’s inspection also revealed violations of TMLP’s storm water permit. In addition to having an individual NPDES permit, TMLP is required to obtain coverage under EPA’s general storm water permit known as the Multi-Sector General Permit for Industrial Activities (MSGP). The MSGP describes activities that must be conducted in order to minimize the impacts of storm water runoff to surface waters from certain types of industrial facilities including steam electric generating facilities such as TMLP. The complaint alleges that TMLP failed to conduct quarterly monitoring for Total Recoverable Iron in violation of the MSGP. The MSGP violations are significant because the federal stormwater program is important to ensuring that stormwater runoff does not contribute to the impairment of water quality.
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